GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 04, 2008, 10:51:32 PM

Title: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 04, 2008, 10:51:32 PM
Mike's lament elsewhere on the opera/vocal board had me thinking of ways to spark some vocal discussion. This particular topic is perhaps a little too esoteric and might not amount to much, but it's a genre I know next to nothing about and would like to learn more.

It just so happens one of my favorite composers - Martinu - has written a fabulous oratorio, The Epic of Gilgamesh. It's a wonderful and dramatic piece, rich in color and invention. Unfortunately I'm short on time at the moment so any extended commentary this piece so rightfully deserves will have to wait.

But please don't let that stop anyone else from commenting on the subject at hand. The floor is open...


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wrmqcZ%2B0L._SS500_.jpg)





Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 04, 2008, 11:19:35 PM
Thanks for this; and when I get back from work I will engage in some proper ping-pong on this thread. I don't know the piece you mentioned and would value forther description on it.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Anne on December 06, 2008, 12:15:04 AM
Does The Epic of Gilgamesh have any beautiful melodies?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 06, 2008, 12:19:33 AM
Does The Epic of Gilgamesh have any beautiful melodies?
Or a symphony written by Caruso?  ;D

I would like to have heard, but never have, the oratorio Die Unaufhörliche (is that right?) by Hindemith.

The Epic is a strong work, I have the Marco Polo release.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 06, 2008, 12:23:33 AM
Tippett is a composer I don't really get along with. I have tried. I think that what has effectively put me off; was when several times I listened to him talking about music. Dry, highly intellectual, meandering, impenetrable, stuffed with references to philosophy. In fact for me, rather like one or two of his pieces that I had listened to. One exception to my rule is 'Child of Our Time'.

My first acquaintance with the piece was preparing it to sing in the chorus conducted by Tippett himself. He turned out to be a delight to work for. The experience was entirely an enriching one. Although we found elements of the music difficult, I don't know of anyone who sooner or later did not succumb to the piece, its beauty, tenderness, drama, the contrast between modernist writing and the Spirituals woven into the piece added to the richness.

It was written around 1949 (Edit my error pinted out, thanks...should be 1941, though I had meant to type 1942.) in response to the war. He was a conscientious objector and during the war he served a prison sentence for his uncompromising stance. The piece depicts the lead up to a shooting and the aftermath. The shooting itself is almost buried within the textures of the music, it is not a drama about a shooting, it is about the human condition. The loose narrative is punctuated with spirituals, which are compared to the use by Bach of chorales, or even to the use of a Greek chorus.

When I was young, critics used often to disparage the work because of this Bachian device; which they felt jarred with the modernist music surrounding it. But for the audience, the mix works superbly. Now, critics seem to be happy to accept that it is a masterpiece; one that taps into people on various levels. Although out of their usual setting, I don't know a more effective or affecting use of spirituals. Lines soar, the melodies are paramount, the word setting careful to communicate.

The spirituals are loaded, in the sense of being slave songs, songs of hope and despair. The four soloists all get a number of highly effective short arias as well as swelling or leading the spirituals, the ensemble work makes the spine tingle.

Colin Davis has produced two versions. The new LSO one is tight, dramatic and has superb choral singing. However, the soloists are not well matched, nor are they distinctive. His first recording on Phillips is my favoured one. The soloists compensate for the analogue sound and the good though less incisive choral work. Jessye Norman and Janet Baker, each sing with both compassion and authority the younger generation don't remotely approach.

But recordings aside, listening to, or being part of a performance is a moving experience, an exploration of The Dark Side, of fear and a call for peace.

Perhaps the answer to my superficial approach to Tippett is to get to grips with the music in a detailed way; from the inside if possible, grow my affection for his music instead of leaving it on the shelf.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Novi on December 07, 2008, 02:59:27 PM
Does an 'opera-oratorio' count? I love Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 07, 2008, 03:31:07 PM
I do so agree with Mike both about Tippett himself(his philosophising is way too much for my limited intellect ;D) and a Child of Our Time.
(Although I think Mike that you will find that it dates from 1941 rather than 1949; the first performance was in London on 9th March 1944.)

A Child of Out Time is a glorious and heart-breakingly moving work and I absolutely agree about the way in which the spirituals are woven into the texture of the whole. The version I have is the Collins cd(they stopped making cds some time ago) with the composer conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and soloists including Faye Robinson and Sarah Walker. This is the version now re-released by Naxos. The performance has been rightly criticised for being slighty indisciplined and slow but it is very well recorded and-above all-it is made all the more moving by the fact that it is the 86-year old composer himself conducting and that provides a extra special 'something' which I would not be without!

(I should have added that I do also have the Colin Davis version with Jessye Norman and Janet Baker on LP.)

Martinu's Epic of Gilgamesh is a marvellous piece-one of the best things Martinu ever composed ;D Hindemith's 'Das Unaufhorliche' is not quite in the same bracket! It is 95 minutes long(and seems longer!). I don't think that Hindemith was a natural choral composer(his operas excepted?). The work is of historic interest-Hindemith emerging from the neo-classicism of the 1920s and moving into the sort of music that he would compose in the 1930s/40s and 50s. The Wergo boxed set is still available.

I shall return to this thread tomorrow with some of my favourite 20th century Oratorios....there are a LOT of them though ;D :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 07, 2008, 11:37:50 PM
....there are a LOT of them though ;D :)
Honegger (too long since I've listened to them) and Frank Martin (wha has several of them ).  Golgatha and In Terra Pax are both superb!
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 08, 2008, 03:59:57 AM
Honegger (too long since I've listened to them) and Frank Martin (wha has several of them ).  Golgatha and In Terra Pax are both superb!

Just acquired another version (Horst Stein's on the Profil label) of one of my favorite 20th century oratorios: Franz Schmidt's Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln. No time to comment further now (Mrs. Rock wants to do some Christmas shopping) but will post more tonight if she gives me a bit of free time.

Mike, agree with your accessment of Tippett's Child and, as you know, I finally bought the Davis/Baker/Norman CD last week:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/julygmg/TippKnotChild.jpg)

Sarge
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 08:12:35 AM
Ok, here goes with a list of 20th century Oratorios in my own collection-

Boris Blacher:        "Der Grossinquisitor"
Willy Burkhard:       "Das Gesicht Jesayas"
Sir Edward Elgar:   "The Dream of Gerontius"
                          "The Apostles"
                          "The Kingdom"
Paul Hindemith:      "Das Unaufhorliche"
Arthur Honegger:    "Cris du Monde"
                           "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher"
                           "Les Danses des Morts"
Herman Koppel:      "Moses"
Jon Leifs:              "Edda", Part 1"The Creation of the World"
Frank Martin:         "Golgotha"
                           "In Terra Pax"
                           "Le Mystere de la Nativite"
Bohuslav Martinu:   "The Epic of Gilgamesh"
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: "Job"
David Monrad-Johansen:  "Voluspaa"
Serge Prokofiev:     "Ivan the Terrible"
Hilding Rosenberg:   Christmas Oratorio "The Holy Night"
Franz Schmidt:       "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln"
Igor Stravinsky:     "Oedipus Rex"
Hermann Suter:     "Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi"
Georgi Sviridov:     Pathetic Oratorio
Sir Michael Tippett: "A Child of Our Time"
Rudolf Tobias:       "Des Jona Sendung"
Ralph Vaughan Williams: "Sancta Civitas"
Heitor Villa-Lobos:  "Amerindia: Sume Pater Patrium"(Symphony No.10)
Sir Henry Walford Davies: "Everyman"
Sir William Walton:    "Belshazzar's Feast"
Franz Waxman:        "Joshua"

The difficulty is where does the Cantata/Oratorio division lie? Is the Oratorio just longer? Some so-called Cantatas are longer than some so-called Oratorios. Sir George Dyson wrote a very big choral work called "Nebuchadnezzar"-is it an oratorio? What about Sir Granville Bantock's "Omar Khayyam"-is it an oratorio? Honegger's "Le Roi David" is described as a 'Symphonic Psalm', Frank Martin's 'Pilate' as a Cantata! Is VW's 'Sancta Civitas' an oratorio while 'Dona nobis pacem' is a cantata?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 08, 2008, 09:07:57 AM
Folks, my apologies re the wrong date for the Tippet, I meant 1942, as the source I used indicated between 1941 and 1943, definitely a War Baby!

Sarge, glad you got that specific earlier Davis performance.

Tippet was fairly elderly when I sang it under him about 35 years ago. He somehow retained the scrubbed cherubic public school boy look and manner. He was very friendly, but apart from some wrong notes he detected in the part scores, he expressed himself delighted with most things.

During the performance, his beat not being very firm, we watched him like hawks. There is a passage for the chorus, "What of the boy then?" a couple of beats then....."What of him?" We got through the first half of the phrase, then he just stood stock still.....rather more than two beats went by. I felt the sweat instantly come out on the back of my knees. The leader saved the day, moved us on and Tippet rejoined this world.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 08, 2008, 09:17:11 AM
Tippett is a composer I don't really get along with. I have tried. I think that what has effectively put me off; was when several times I listened to him talking about music. Dry, highly intellectual, meandering, impenetrable, stuffed with references to philosophy. In fact for me, rather like one or two of his pieces that I had listened to. One exception to my rule is 'Child of Our Time'.

My first acquaintance with the piece was preparing it to sing in the chorus conducted by Tippett himself. He turned out to be a delight to work for. The experience was entirely an enriching one. Although we found elements of the music difficult, I don't know of anyone who sooner or later did not succumb to the piece, its beauty, tenderness, drama, the contrast between modernist writing and the Spirituals woven into the piece added to the richness.

It was written around 1949 in response to the war. He was a conscientious objector and during the war he served a prison sentence for his uncompromising stance. The piece depicts the lead up to a shooting and the aftermath. The shooting itself is almost buried within the textures of the music, it is not a drama about a shooting, it is about the human condition. The loose narrative is punctuated with spirituals, which are compared to the use by Bach of chorales, or even to the use of a Greek chorus.

When I was young, critics used often to disparage the work because of this Bachian device; which they felt jarred with the modernist music surrounding it. But for the audience, the mix works superbly. Now, critics seem to be happy to accept that it is a masterpiece; one that taps into people on various levels. Although out of their usual setting, I don't know a more effective or affecting use of spirituals. Lines soar, the melodies are paramount, the word setting careful to communicate.

The spirituals are loaded, in the sense of being slave songs, songs of hope and despair. The four soloists all get a number of highly effective short arias as well as swelling or leading the spirituals, the ensemble work makes the spine tingle.

Colin Davis has produced two versions. The new LSO one is tight, dramatic and has superb choral singing. However, the soloists are not well matched, nor are they distinctive. His first recording on Phillips is my favoured one. The soloists compensate for the analogue sound and the good though less incisive choral work. Jessye Norman and Janet Baker, each sing with both compassion and authority the younger generation don't remotely approach.

But recordings aside, listening to, or being part of a performance is a moving experience, an exploration of The Dark Side, of fear and a call for peace.

Perhaps the answer to my superficial approach to Tippett is to get to grips with the music in a detailed way; from the inside if possible, grow my affection for his music instead of leaving it on the shelf.

Mike

Posts like this really make the forum for me; thanks, Mike.

I don't know this piece at all, having kept a cautious distance.  But that must change, I see.

Again, thanks!
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 09:31:05 AM
Folks, my apologies re the wrong date for the Tippet, I meant 1942, as the source I used indicated between 1941 and 1943, definitely a War Baby!

Sarge, glad you got that specific earlier Davis performance.

Tippet was fairly elderly when I sang it under him about 35 years ago. He somehow retained the scrubbed cherubic public school boy look and manner. He was very friendly, but apart from some wrong notes he detected in the part scores, he expressed himself delighted with most things.

During the performance, his beat not being very firm, we watched him like hawks. There is a passage for the chorus, "What of the boy then?" a couple of beats then....."What of him?" We got through the first half of the phrase, then he just stood stock still.....rather more than two beats went by. I felt the sweat instantly come out on the back of my knees. The leader saved the day, moved us on and Tippet rejoined this world.

Mike


Tippett, Mike ;D

And I still say that the work, begun in 1939, was completed in 1941 :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 08, 2008, 09:35:43 AM
Ok, here goes with a list of 20th century Oratorios in my own collection-

Boris Blacher:        "Der Grossinquisitor"
Willy Burkhard:       "Das Gesicht Jesayas"
Sir Edward Elgar:   "The Dream of Gerontius"
                          "The Apostles"
                          "The Kingdom"
Paul Hindemith:      "Das Unaufhorliche"
Arthur Honegger:    "Cris du Monde"
                           "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher"
                           "Les Danses des Morts"
Herman Koppel:      "Moses"
Jon Leifs:              "Edda", Part 1"The Creation of the World"
Frank Martin:         "Golgotha"
                           "In Terra Pax"
                           "Le Mystere de la Nativite"
Bohuslav Martinu:   "The Epic of Gilgamesh"
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: "Job"
David Monrad-Johansen:  "Voluspaa"
Serge Prokofiev:     "Ivan the Terrible"
Hilding Rosenberg:   Christmas Oratorio "The Holy Night"
Franz Schmidt:       "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln"
Igor Stravinsky:     "Oedipus Rex"
Hermann Suter:     "Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi"
Georgi Sviridov:     Pathetic Oratorio
Sir Michael Tippett: "A Child of Our Time"
Rudolf Tobias:       "Des Jona Sendung"
Ralph Vaughan Williams: "Sancta Civitas"
Heitor Villa-Lobos:  "Amerindia: Sume Pater Patrium"(Symphony No.10)
Sir Henry Walford Davies: "Everyman"
Sir William Walton:    "Belshazzar's Feast"
Franz Waxman:        "Joshua"

An impressive list, Colin!  And though it be an impertinence for me to make suggestions, just because I happen to know a couple of pieces which don't appear in your list . . . .

First, three pieces which I suspect that you do have, in fact:

Britten, War Requiem (the inclusion of Wilfred Owen's poetry I think bumps this one from the Liturgical category to Oratorio)
Shostakovich, Thirteenth Symphony ('Babi Yar') (I mean:  men's chorus, solo bass, five Yevtushenko poems . . . a cantata/oratorio by any other name . . . .)
Vaughan Williams, Dona nobis pacem

And a few which, when you may have the chance, I think you may find rewarding:

Bartók, Cantata profana
Prokofiev, Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution
Wuorinen, Genesis


And one, if you should investigate it, whether or not you find it rewarding is on the knees of the gods  8)

Stravinsky, Threni
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 08, 2008, 09:38:57 AM
Tippett, Mike ;D

And I still say that the work, begun in 1939, was completed in 1941 :)

My spelling! Sorry, I need to do better. As to when it was written, I won't argue. We are all victims of what we read or hear, unless we were there.

Karl, Thanks very much.

Mike

Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 08, 2008, 09:42:27 AM
Anybody heard Der Jona Sendung by Tobias on BIS? I remember Martin Anderson was mightily impressed by it once upon a time.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 09:42:49 AM
I wasn't (quite) there in 1941 ;D  My sources all say 1941 but anyway.......your original post was indeed  first class :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 09:47:25 AM
Anybody heard Der Jona Sendung by Tobias on BIS? I remember Martin Anderson was mightily impressed by it once upon a time.

Yes sir! That work is on my list and in my collection :) A fine work-grand and imposing! Can't do better than direct you to this review-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Oct01/Tobias.htm
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 09:57:45 AM
Thank you, Karl.

However(ah, there has to be a 'however' ;D)....

I tried to cover some of the exclusions in my last paragraph about the Oratorio/Cantata split.

I DO take your point about Britten's War Requiem. I had excluded Requiems from my list but Britten's could indeed qualify :)
VW called 'Dona nobis pacem' "a cantata for soprano and baritone soli, chorus and orchestra" but 'Sancta Civitas' "an oratorio for tenor and baritone soli, semi-chorus, distant chorus and orchestra".
The Bartok and Prokofiev-both of which I have on my shelves-are obviously Cantatas.

Ok.....I know that this gets rather silly, to quote your beloved Mony Python, and if we are going to include the Cantata then the list would be much longer but don't tempt me to start another list ;D ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 08, 2008, 10:09:56 AM
Thank you, Karl.

However (ah, there has to be a 'however' ;D)....

I tried to cover some of the exclusions in my last paragraph about the Oratorio/Cantata split.

I know!  I don't know that we are going to come up with an airtight distinction . . . my functional criteria have been:

A. Meant for concert performance? → oratorio
B. Meant for, or compatible with, liturgical use and/or devotional reflection? → cantata

Of course, even Bach (the Founder of our understanding of the Cantata) wrote some secular cantate.  But it is why, even though the Bartók and Prokofiev have cantata in the title, they seem to me to fit more readily in the oratorio bucket.

Also, I didn't suggest the two Webern cantate, which (while not strictly sacred) have a quiet, contemplative character which seems to me more like a cantata than an oratorio.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 08, 2008, 12:45:56 PM
I think a pedantic distinction between cantata and oratiorio is to be avoided. There are too many instances of secular cantatas to write them off as aberrations and call them something else. Things like Rachmaninoff's Spring Cantata, Stravinsky's Cantata*, Nielsen's Cantata for the centenary of the Merchant's Committee, Cantata for the Centenary of the Polytechnic High School, and Cantata for the 50th Anniversary of the Danish Cremation Union (I'm not making these up, you know), Tchaikovsky's Cantata for the Pupils of the Patriotic Institute orCantata for the Opening of the Polytechnical Exhibition at Moscow.


If a composer calls it a cantata, it's a cantata.

*Stravinsky's possibly fits for devotional reflection, but more likely intended for concert performance.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 08, 2008, 12:49:27 PM
Can we count Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky?

I am currently listening to the new Halle version of Gerontius. In the morning I disappear off on my travells for three days, but when I get back I will write it up. But if anyone is wondering whether to buy it, do, it is simply fantastic.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 12:53:48 PM
I agree!

As you say "if a composer calls it a cantata, it's a cantata".....not an oratorio ;D

'Alexander Nevsky' is a Cantata drawn from Prokofiev's music for Eisenstein's film :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 08, 2008, 01:14:09 PM
Yes, but not written as a cantata originally....I thought perhaps it might be excluded. So, good news, I will write about it when I get a chance.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 08, 2008, 01:31:14 PM
Yes, but not written as a cantata originally....I thought perhaps it might be excluded. So, good news, I will write about it when I get a chance.

Mike

What? In THIS thread? The Oratorio thread? ;D ;D

My list of Cantatas is looming ever nearer >:D
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 08, 2008, 10:03:26 PM
Could we not settle for 20th Cent choral pieces?


Just an idea

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 09, 2008, 10:03:13 AM
Ok, Mike, I am perfectly happy to extend this to other 20th century choral works ;D

So.....among my own personal favourites would be:

Bernstein Chichester Psalms
Bloch Sacred Service
Britten Cantata 'St.Nicholas'
Durufle Requiem
Dyson The Canterbury Pilgrims
Elgar The Spirit of England
Finzi Intimations of Immortality, 'In terra pax'
Hindemith-Requiem 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd'
Holmboe Requiem for Nietzsche
Holst Choral Symphony, Hymn of Jesus, Ode to Death
Honegger-, 'Le Roi David", Christmas Cantata
Herbert Howells-Hymnus Paradisi, Stabat Mater, Missa Sabriensis
Janacek Glagolitic Mass
Ludvig Irgens Jensen 'Heimfred'
Kodaly Psalmus Hungaricus, Budaveri Te Deum
Jon Leifs-Iceland Cantata
George Lloyd Symphonic Mass, Litany, 'The Vigil of Venus'
Frank Martin-Cantata 'Pilate', Requiem
William Mathias-'Lux Aeterna'
Novak-'The Storm'
Orff-Carmina Burana
Penderecki-Polish Requiem
Poulenc-Gloria
Rachmaninov-The Bells
Rubbra-Advent Cantata 'Natum Maria Virgine'
Schoenberg Gurreleider
Suk-Epilogue
Szymanowski-Stabat Mater
Vaughan Williams-Cantatas 'Dona nobis pacem', 'Hodie', 'Toward the Unknown Region'

but others deserving a mention would include John Adams 'On the Transmigration of Souls', the various Cantatas written for special occasions by Hugo Alfven(like the Cantata for the 400th Anniversary of Uppsala Cathedral or the Cantata for the 1917 Reformation Festivities in Uppsala), Britten's Cantata Academica, Foulds' World Requiem, Constant Lambert's 'Summer's Last Will and Testament',
Markevitch 'Lorenzo il Magnifico', Martinu's Czech Rhapsody, the Menotti Cantatas, Knut Nystedt's 'Apocalypsis Joannis', Pfitzner's Cantata 'Von Detscher Seele', the Prokofiev Cantatas("On Guard for Peace", Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution),
Schnittke's Cantata 'Nagasaki' and Faust-Cantata, the short Sibelius Cantatas, Richard Wetz's Requiem.

Oh...I have probably forgotten many others!

Anyway, happy to discuss any of these ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 10, 2008, 07:29:41 PM
Ok, Mike, I am perfectly happy to extend this to other 20th century choral works ;D


If it's the board's decision to expand this thread I'm all for it. Should I rename it?

I still hope to contribute, BTW, but I've been under the weather the last several days and can't muster much energy. :P :P
 
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 07:58:53 AM
If it's the board's decision to expand this thread I'm all for it. Should I rename it?

I still hope to contribute, BTW, but I've been under the weather the last several days and can't muster much energy. :P :P
 

I think that renaming the thread might now be a good idea :)

Sorry to hear that you are unwell :( Get better soon :)

Here is another thought....why has the big Oratorio or Cantata not been a more popular musical form in the USA? A number of prominent American composers steered clear of big choral pieces with orchestra: Copland, Piston, for example.

Even those who did write a cantata are not primarily remembered for so doing-

Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard, The Lovers
Bernstein-Chichester Psalms, Mass
Diamond-Sacred Service, This Sacred Ground
Hanson-quite a lot of choral music, including an Oratorio "New Land, New Covenant", Lament of Beowulf, Lumen in Christo, The Mystic Trumpeter,
    Heroic Elegy, Drum Taps, Streams in the Desert, Psalm 121
Harris-also quite a lot, including Challenge, Salute to Death
Hovhaness-a lot(of everything!!)
Mennin-Cantata 'The Christmas Story', Cantata de virtute
Schuman-Cantata 'Casey at the Bak', Prologues
Sessions-Cantata "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd"

Ok....more than I thought at first..but not that much ever recorded I wouldn't have thought? Or am I talking rubbish?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 11, 2008, 08:05:50 AM
Here is another thought....why has the big Oratorio or Cantata not been a more popular musical form in the USA?

But it has!  Choral societies largely devoted to periodic performances of Messiah, the Beethoven Ninth, The Creation, were for a long time the most important leavening agent for popular appreciation of the classical literature in the States.

It was also a source of a certain degree of inertia in musical taste . . . so many people had sung or listened to these pieces, everybody loved them:  how could newly composed music be great, like these works, if they did not make us feel the same, as these works?

So the existence of these choral societies in the US did not generate demand for new choral works, in anything like the way that corresponding organizations and festivals did in England.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 08:12:45 AM
Yes, I should have worded my assertion much more precisely to cover the very point that you make!

I meant, of course, popular form for American composers. I accept that many American composers have written big choral works but relatively few of them seem to have entered the repertoire or been recorded. Many of the pieces I listed are relatively short.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 11, 2008, 10:30:42 AM


Schuman-Cantata 'Casey at the Bak',
?


So Casey was a bakdoor man as well?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 10:35:27 AM
So Casey was a bakdoor man as well?

Sorry!

"Bat". Schuman must be the only composer to have composed a 'baseball cantata' ;D It's based on his opera "The Mighty Casey".
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 11, 2008, 10:54:54 AM
Sorry!

"Bat". Schuman must be the only composer to have composed a 'baseball cantata' ;D It's based on his opera "The Mighty Casey".
I was aware of that, just needed to pull somebodys leg, and you came in handy! ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 11, 2008, 11:14:40 AM
The Mighty Casey, the Dark Knight?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: karlhenning on December 11, 2008, 11:17:36 AM
Quote
I don't know that we are going to come up with an airtight distinction

Please consider that to be in compliance with pedantry-avoidance  8)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 11:20:16 AM
Please consider that to be in compliance with pedantry-avoidance  8)

I think that we have now moved on from that point, Karl :)

I made the distinction initially to try to avoid posting too long a list ;D ;D ...but you ended up getting it anyway :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: The new erato on December 11, 2008, 11:23:30 AM
Did you mention Draumkvedet and Margit Hjukse by Groven? Sterling stuff!
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 11:31:39 AM
I mentioned the first of these in the Scandinavian composers' thread; never heard of the second!
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 11, 2008, 02:40:52 PM
What a lot of learning I have in store when folk give us some information about all these many works listed that I don't know.



The Dream of Gerontius is 20th century, but only just. The first and unsuccessful performance was in Birmingham in 1900. It is based on a work by Cardinal Newman. The words to the piece seem to either attract people or repel them.

Newman was a controversial figure in academic and doctrinal circles in England. He rather kind of floated round Oxford University in a fairly unconventional way, but wrote highly influential works on theology, becoming a leading light in the Oxford Movement which tried to drag Anglicanism back to its Roman roots. Eventually, he joined the Roman Catholic church, becoming a priest and frankly was seen by the RC establishment as both a pest and a feather in their cap, a high profile defection to their cause. As such it is perhaps no great surprise he was made a Cardinal, writing Gerontius in 1865, he died in 1890. In 1991 he was proclaimed as Venerable, which is one of the stage posts towards canonisation.

Elgar was a Roman Catholic, so the poem is one Catholic setting the words of another. What we have is a religious tract with dramatic content, not a dramatic enactment with religious overtones. This I think is the nub of what some find unpalatable and why some performances seem flat. If the artists can't grapple with this tension, there will be elements missing. It is a mistake to make it an opera of the mind.

Although the words have been criticised, I very much like them and this almost stream of consciousness, and unconsciousness, is unique in its form as far as I know.

Basically it is the journey of an Everyman through death, judgement and into what lies beyond.

There is a brand new version conducted by Sir Mark Elder and I think that at long last I have found a version as deeply satisfying, yet very different from the long cherished Barbirolli. They both emanate from the Halle Orchestra, which is now in resplendent form, a really wonderful outfit.

Almost my favourite parts of this piece are the two orchestral introductions; they are moving and dramatic and have sweep. We get an old hymn as the man in the poem expires, the choral writing goes from delicate and solemn, to later evoking demons. Some choirs manage the various moods of the piece better than others. A few UK choirs have basically been too polite. Not here, they get torn into the spirit of whatever they are asked for. The great set piece, 'Praise to the Holiest' is refulgent and sweeps us along. When singing this, you should be spent at the end of it, or you just are not trying. Here is is given the full-on treatment.

Elder has the symphonic shape under his fingers and it feels wonderfully organic. The piece can sound episodic, but not here. He brings out delicate layers of gentle playing and sweeping passion; and the engineering brings out the organ at vital points better than on the other recordings I have. There is a great feeling of concentration and a calm certainty here once the death has occured, as against Barbirolli's more mercurial journey where there is no certainty until the judgement has been passed. Here there is a serenity in the progression towards that point, an acceptance. At the end, the work ebbs away most beautifully into the ether, shimmering like a mirage.

There are three soloists. The Baratone gets two short arias, they contrast in tessitura and clearly Terfel is less secure in the first aria where he sounds to be pushing and a wobble is evident. His later incarnation finds him more secure, but whatever he sings, he is communicating with every word.

The tenor has to have bit of heft, but in the main, a 1950s style Handel Tenor can get round most of it. It has  been recorded by Peter Pears, desiccated and parched. Although Britten's conducting is worth the entry price and Yvonne Minton is a real asset as the Angel on that Decca set, Pears causes agony when he is really supposed to express it.

Here we have Paul Groves, he is in the mould of Richard Lewis, clear words, clear voice, good expressive use of the text. He is a bit taxed at the occasional almost heldentenor phrases, but it is a small matter. He explains the journey, it is an intelligent reading. Our Andre has ordered the live Barbirolli version from Rome with Vickers, I should think he would be an exceptional Gerontius, I hope he gives us a report.

The make or break however is often the angel. I have not taken very much pleasure with any interpretation after connecting with Janet Baker in the part. I was in choir for her, Helen Watts, Yvonne Minton and Alfreda Hodgson, but Baker had a lot of things to offer that the others sinply could not supply. Mainly it was a kind of tenderness in the tone that was very moving. Alice Coote for Elder is different indeed, cooler, but nevertheless involved and she pulls off the challenge and at last I have found a reading I like as much as Baker, but which is very much its own. She colours the words well, she uses portamento, (as does the orchestra), many touches of individuality and a gravely beautiful voice. There are climactic phrases, some of which have alternative lower options as thy lie right at the top of the mezzo range, but Coote rises to these with gleaming tone and dramatic panash.

So altogether, a great gift of a performance of a favourite piece, a new generation of artists have come together and made what is easily the best version I know of since the Barbirolli was laid down.

Mike


Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Brewski on December 11, 2008, 02:45:51 PM
Well, I guess I need to add this to my list!  I have a couple of Elder's earlier Elgar releases with the orchestra and they are marvelous.  (I am especially fond of their version of In the South.)

Paul Groves is one of my favorite "newish" singers, after hearing him in the title role of a concert version of Candide.  Then I saw him as Tom in The Rake's Progress--also excellent in that.

Thanks for the comments; this new release sounds most enticing.

--Bruce
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: knight66 on December 11, 2008, 02:47:38 PM
Thanks Bruce, despite a fair bit of competition, I think it is my record of the year, or discs of the year now I guess!

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Brewski on December 11, 2008, 02:49:46 PM
I should have added that I don't know the piece at all--whether by Barbirolli or anyone else.  But there is very little Elgar I've heard that I haven't liked.

--Bruce
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dundonnell on December 11, 2008, 05:48:28 PM
Any particular works that you don't know that I can help you with, Mike?
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 11, 2008, 06:11:36 PM
I think that renaming the thread might now be a good idea :)

Renamed!

Quote
Sorry to hear that you are unwell :( Get better soon :)


Thanks, Dundonnell. :) My wife and I both fell ill and recovery has been slow. Any day now, though.


Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: Christo on December 11, 2008, 10:57:37 PM
Anybody heard Der Jona Sendung by Tobias on BIS? I remember Martin Anderson was mightily impressed by it once upon a time.

Yes, I used to play it quite often, and yes, a handful of critics where overwhelmed  (http://www.emic.kul.ee/tobias/biography1.htm) at it's world premiere (more or less so) back in 1995, after a neglect of some 75 years. I find it very hard to classify the piece, it's like a Händel meets Brahms meets Sibelius meets .... Some parts are very special and quite unique indeed, but large other parts less so. I'll hve to return to it again.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 11, 2008, 11:09:54 PM
William Mathias-'Lux Aeterna'
Suk 'Epilogue'
Arthur Honegger:    "Cris du Monde"
                           "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher"

I would like rather more on Martinu's "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

That is for starters.

Nice to see this thread attracting a bit of traffic.

Mike

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 12, 2008, 07:13:40 AM
William Mathias-'Lux Aeterna'
Suk 'Epilogue'
Arthur Honegger:    "Cris du Monde"
                           "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher"

I would like rather more on Martinu's "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

That is for starters.

Nice to see this thread attracting a bit of traffic.

Mike



I SHALL return ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 12, 2008, 04:07:16 PM
William Mathias(1934-1992) was one of the four distinguished composers who brought so much to music in Wales during the last decades of the 20th century;the others were Grace Williams(1906-77), Daniel Jones(1912-93) and Alan Hoddinott(1929-2008).
Although the youngest Mathias died tragically early at the age of 58.

Mathias wrote within the great traditions of Welsh music and especially choral music. He wrote more for chorus and orchestra than the other three and certainly more of his choral music is available on disc. (We need a recording of Daniel Jones's big Oratorio 'St. Peter', although his fine Cantata 'The County Beyond the Stars' is on disc.)

Mathias is a more accessible composer than Hoddinott. His idiom has been described as 'inclined to be derivative and sometimes dated' and it is undoubtedly strongly influenced by composers like Britten and Tippett but, in my opinion, none the worse for that!

'Lux Aeterna' is, probably, his masterpiece. It is a big(56 minute) piece for soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, boys' chorus, choir, organ and orchestra and was given its first performance to commission at The Three Choirs' Festival in Hereford Cathedral in 1982. Dedicated to the memory of the composer's mother, it sets texts from the Requiem and other Masses, the Vespers for Trinity Sunday, four anthems to the Blessed Virgin and four poems by St.John of the Cross. The work is infused by a dedicated spirituality but also considerable drama and power. It is given a dedicated performance on the early Chandos disc conducted by Sir David Willcocks.

For those who respond to large choral works of this kind in a modern but eminently accessible idiom I would strongly recommend the piece!

(Mathias wrote a further large-scale choral work entitled 'This Worlde's Joie' based on early English texts on the subject of the four seasons. It appears on a Lyrita disc coupled with two shorter choral pieces: 'Ave Rex' and 'Elegy for a Prince'-also strongly recommended) :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on December 12, 2008, 04:47:29 PM
My Favourites:

Howells: Hymnus Paradisi (must be heard, especially as it's now on Naxos), Stabat Mater

Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem, Epithalamion, Sancta Civitas, Hodie

Prokofiev: Ivan the Terrible (better than Alexander Nevsky in my book)

Bliss: Morning Heroes

Honegger: Christmas Cantata (I hope that the new Hyperion recording is coming my way for Christmas).

Tippet: A Child of Our Time (for the ending)

Britten: Cantata Misericordium, War Requiem

Martin: In Terra Pax

Finzi: In Terra Pax

Martinu: Epic of Gilgamesh

Durufle: Requiem (does this count?)

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 12, 2008, 10:32:18 PM
I would like rather more on Martinu's "The Epic of Gilgamesh"


I sure would like to deliver, Mike. I gave it a half-start tonight but couldn't wring much out. I'm on the mend finally but my head is still a little sluggish. Tomorrow is my target date for a proper write-up of Gilgamesh. 


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 12, 2008, 11:30:17 PM
I sure would like to deliver, Mike. I gave it a half-start tonight but couldn't squeeze much out. I'm on the mend finally but my head is still a little sluggish. Tomorrow is my target date for a proper write-up of Gilgamesh. 


Sorry you have been feeling rough. I guess a consolation might be that it probably means you will not catch anuything over Christmas. Usually one or other of us gets a cold over the holiday period.

Colin,

Thanks for the Mathias suggestion. I found it second hand on Amazon and have ordered it.

Mike

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on December 13, 2008, 01:30:36 AM
I should have added Szymanowski's Third Symphony and Stabat Mater to my list
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: The new erato on December 13, 2008, 01:37:56 AM
Has Waltons Belshazzar been mentioned?
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 13, 2008, 06:21:41 AM
Has Waltons Belshazzar been mentioned?

Yes ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 13, 2008, 06:25:31 AM
Does a bear poop in the woods?  8)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 13, 2008, 06:37:27 AM
For Suk's Epilogue I cannot do better than refer you to the excellent Musicweb review of the Pesek performance on Virgin-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2003/Oct03/Suk_Epilogue.htm

Epilogue is, very much, Suk's swansong. Although he began composition in 1920 he took nine years to complete the work and a further four years of revision. The first performance was in December 1933 in Prague under Vaclav Talich(to whom the work is dedicated). Two years later Suk was dead.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 13, 2008, 11:02:00 PM
Ah, okay, Gilgamesh.

Well, it's a very likable work. Very approachable. But this is not meant to imply it's lightweight or fluffy. In fact, it is the very opposite.

For anyone already familiar with Martinu's aesthetic the work is self-recommending. It's top-shelf Martinu which means that all the things that make Martinu great are to be found in abundance. It'll grip the listener from start to finish

But what about the many folks who aren't familiar with Martinu's aesthetic? Well, what's to say? Imagine a composer with all the ups and downs of Stravinsky, the quirkiness of Hindemith, and the pensiveness of Britten. Combine these and what you get is a partial picture of Martinu's musical style. Where he strikes out on his own is his unique sense of playfulness - but not as in 'ha-ha' playfulness. More like 'spicy' playfulness. And in his best works Martinu really turns up the spice.

As he does here.

But spice can mean different things depending on the approach. With Gilgamesh it's a matter of using that spice to decorate the musical line to keep the slowish pace of the work from bogging down the listener. But that's the joy of the work!! It's not so much a test of patience for the listener as it is an exploration of undiscovered riches.

It's simply a steady stream of invention, color, and quirkiness, which keeps the listener on their toes and wondering what will happen next. But certainly there's more to the work than a slowish pace. There's nothing quite like Martinu's unique powers of invention and when the orchestral outbursts eventually do come they're all a-dazzle. The complexity, the layering, and the way the outbursts seem so perfectly contrasted with the preceding calm, all this spells drama of the first order and leaves one marveling. The kaleidoscopic effect on the musical line is amazing!

What that I could do justice to the musical effects. No it's not a piece to show off an orchestra's chops - a la Rite or some such - but the moods and colors are pounded home by a rigorous musical regime that dazzles every bit as deeply as your garden variety orchestral showpiece (0:)). It's just a different side of the dramatic coin and Martinu chooses finesse.

Over the long haul there's no repetitiveness or fatigue. Nor is the music watered down or laced with dramatic effects. It's just good honest music. With this type of piece (low-keyed) the goodness resides in the way the music can be made to seem relevant. And at every point the music makes itself relevant. And then some (I think I should mention spice here but I won't ;D).


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 13, 2008, 11:08:54 PM
Thanks for that; it sounds intriguing and I have not heard any of his music as far as I can recall. Do you have any recorded versions to recommend?

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 13, 2008, 11:20:14 PM
There are only two commercial versions I know of - the one I have on Supraphon and a Naxos version originally released on Marco Polo (Dundonnell mentions one other from the cover of BBC Music Magazine which is probably NLA).

This one has everything I could ask for:



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wrmqcZ%2B0L._SS500_.jpg)

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 14, 2008, 12:01:29 AM
Thanks, I have ordered it. So together with my Mathias, the year will end with some new sounds for me. Mind you; I hope these will give me more pleasure than my first endurance test, this morning, through Messiaen's Turangalila; which felt like an endless tuning-up of a very large orchestra.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 14, 2008, 07:09:42 AM
Thanks, I have ordered it. So together with my Mathias, the year will end with some new sounds for me. Mind you; I hope these will give me more pleasure than my first endurance test, this morning, through Messiaen's Turangalila; which felt like an endless tuning-up of a very large orchestra.

Mike

 ;D :)

Turangalila is not my favourite work although I do like those menacing brass fanfares which make up the statue theme :) I once sat through a live performance conducted by Mark Wigglesworth. Where he now?
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 14, 2008, 07:56:05 AM
Well, one hearing of such a complex work; but it is clearly a piece that lives moment by moment, not for cumulative effect. That being so, a lot of it left me cold around some vignettes that were beautiful.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 14, 2008, 10:58:38 AM
Thanks, I have ordered it. So together with my Mathias, the year will end with some new sounds for me. Mind you; I hope these will give me more pleasure than my first endurance test, this morning, through Messiaen's Turangalila; which felt like an endless tuning-up of a very large orchestra.

Mike

I'm fairly confident you won't be put off by Gilgamesh, Mike. It doesn't strive for austerity like Turangalila. Yes it's adventurous but there's a palatability that gives it a winning edge.

Looking forward to a review!


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Christo on December 14, 2008, 11:40:50 AM
Now the topic has shifted form `oratorio' to choral music, I may make another attempt of listing some personal favourites. Many have been mentioned already by Dundonnell and Vandermolen. My own list would also include larger choral pieces not yet (?) mentioned here, like:

Khatchatur Avetissian, Armenian Oratorio `In Memoriam 1915'
Ernest Bloch, Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service)
Paul Constantinescu, Oratoriul bizantin de Crăciun (Byzantine Christmas Oratorio)
Leoš Janáček, Vecné evangelium (The Eternal Gospel)
William Matthias, Lux Aeterna
Carl Orff, De temporum fine comoedia
Arvo Pärt, Kanon Pokajanen
Veljo Tormis, Unustatud Rahvad (Forgotten Peoples)
Erkki-Sven Tüür, Oratorio Ante Finem Saeculi
Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chôros no. 10




Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 14, 2008, 04:40:41 PM
Now the topic has shifted form `oratorio' to choral music, I may make another attempt of listing some personal favourites. Many have been mentioned already by Dundonnell and Vandermolen. My own list would also include larger choral pieces not yet (?) mentioned here, like:

Khatchatur Avetissian, Armenian Oratorio `In Memoriam 1915'
Ernest Bloch, Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service)
Paul Constantinescu, Oratoriul bizantin de Crăciun (Byzantine Christmas Oratorio)
Leoš Janáček, Vecné evangelium (The Eternal Gospel)
William Matthias, Lux Aeterna
Carl Orff, De temporum fine comoedia
Arvo Pärt, Kanon Pokajanen
Veljo Tormis, Unustatud Rahvad (Forgotten Peoples)
Erkki-Sven Tüür, Oratorio Ante Finem Saeculi
Heitor Villa-Lobos, Chôros no. 10






Oh, my goodness! I don't know many of these! Well, actually...only the Bloch and the Villa-Lobos and the Mathias(see lengthy post above, Johan ;D)

How many are commercially available?
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 15, 2008, 12:34:49 AM
I thought I knew quite a lot of choral music and I don't know any of those pieces.

I am away now for most of the week. I will post summat on another of my favourites when I get back. Meantime, I hope you will all generate lots more that I want to read.

Cheers,

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: The new erato on December 15, 2008, 12:37:33 AM
Are we talking a capella as well? In which case I'd put a word in for Kreneks Lamentationes Jeremiah.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on December 15, 2008, 12:49:06 AM
All comers are welcome, can you tell us about the piece?

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Christo on December 15, 2008, 10:35:40 AM
Oh, my goodness! I don't know many of these! Well, actually...only the Bloch and the Villa-Lobos and the Mathias(see lengthy post above, Johan ;D)

How many are commercially available?

All of these pieces are commercially available on CD - I know, I own them - some of them (e.g. Villa-Lobos, Janáček, Bloch) in multiple recordings.

Sorry about Matthias' Lux Aeterna - I did observe yous comment on it, but supposed it was in another thread.  :-[ I love the piece, though, and was very happy to read about it for the first time in my life (I think I played it shortly after the Chandos recording was released in the 1980s, but didn't read about it ever since - so, many thanks that you pay it the attention it surely deserves!

I now see I forgot to mention a couple of other favourites. My favourite Pärt, for example, is the sublimely concentrated (and performed) Te Deum, not just the lengthy Kanon Pokajanen. Or take Ottorino Respighi's long `lyric poem' La Primavera (1922), for soli, chorus and orchestra - a 1994 Marco Polo recording just released anew on Naxos.

And may I strongly support the nomination of Gilgamesh, too?  :)



Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 15, 2008, 12:08:04 PM
Correction. I do have Janackek's 'The Eternal Gospel' :)

Runs off to play it again ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on December 16, 2008, 02:45:31 AM
Bloch's Sacred Service is one of my favourites; like a cross between Vaughan Williams and Ben Hur  ;D I have versions by Geoffrey Simon, Bernsein, Bloch, Elli Jaffe and Diego Fasolis. Simon's remastered, reissued version on Chandos is a good recommendation although's Bloch's own recording (with the LSO and sung in English) is the most impassioned version.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 16, 2008, 06:02:06 AM
Bloch's Sacred Service is one of my favourites; like a cross between Vaughan Williams and Ben Hur  ;D I have versions by Geoffrey Simon, Bernsein, Bloch, Elli Jaffe and Diego Fasolis. Simon's remastered, reissued version on Chandos is a good recommendation although's Bloch's own recording (with the LSO and sung in English) is the most impassioned version.

Oh Jeffrey! Surely you mean "a cross between Vaughan Williams and Miklos Rozsa"? You can't have a cross between a composer and a film! ;D ;D

(Deepest apologies for being such an annoying pedant....but I don't get to do it in school anymore ;D)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2008, 06:18:12 AM
You can't have a cross between a composer and a film!

'Tain't natchrel!
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on December 16, 2008, 07:43:48 AM
Oh Jeffrey! Surely you mean "a cross between Vaughan Williams and Miklos Rozsa"? You can't have a cross between a composer and a film! ;D ;D

(Deepest apologies for being such an annoying pedant....but I don't get to do it in school anymore ;D)

OK Colin, as it's you. More then like a cross between Vaughan Williams and Quo Vadis  ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 16, 2008, 07:46:19 AM
OK Colin, as it's you. More then like a cross between Vaughan Williams and Quo Vadis  ;D

Hehe ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Lethevich on December 21, 2008, 04:04:33 PM
Oh, my goodness! I don't know many of these! Well, actually...only the Bloch and the Villa-Lobos and the Mathias(see lengthy post above, Johan ;D)

How many are commercially available?

The Tüür I uploaded for someone ages ago, and still have it hosted:

http://rapidshare.com/files/122395278/01_-_Ante_Finem_Saeculi_-_I._Tempus_I.mp3
http://rapidshare.com/files/122399293/02_-_Ante_Finem_Saeculi_-_II._Tempus_II.mp3
http://rapidshare.com/files/122399987/03_-_Ante_Finem_Saeculi_-_III._Tempus_III.mp3
http://rapidshare.com/files/122401709/04_-_Ante_Finem_Saeculi_-_IV._Tempus_IV.mp3

It's from an OOP Finlandia disc, the other part of the disc (Symphony No.2) has been reissued, but this has not.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: mozartsneighbor on December 22, 2008, 10:03:28 AM
Frank Martin's Requiem has already been mentioned, but not his Mass for Double Choir, which is one of my favorite choral pieces. This is an excellent performance, and the Pizzetti isn't half bad either:
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ZKVT60WPL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on December 22, 2008, 10:05:23 AM
Agreed! Good call :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on December 30, 2008, 11:48:03 AM
I'm surprised Part has been only mentioned once here. What about his Summa? What about the Stabat Mater? Not being much of a Part fan I have to admit the latter is a truly great piece.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 30, 2008, 11:52:16 AM
A Maciek sighting!  :D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on December 30, 2008, 11:56:29 AM
Oh, hi Karl! Heh, heh.

Another conspicuously absent composer would be Bronius Kutavicius. I think his "pagan oratorios" deserve a mention: especially Gates of Jerusalem (OK, the best parts here are definitely the ones without choir), From the Jatvingian Stone and The Tree of Earth. Again, not really one of my favorite composers but there's some excellent music in there! He's a composer with a wide/wild following at GMG, as is evidenced by his immensely popular thread (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,4264.0.html).
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on December 30, 2008, 12:37:23 PM
Another Lithuanian contender would be Vidmantas Bartulis with his Requiem...

Oh, and Narbutaite's Centones meae urbi! The composer seems to have a proclivity towards second rate literature (at least as far as my tastes are concerned) but the music is pretty good.

I would also recommend practically everything on Paul Hillier's Baltic Voices anthology (3 CDs from Harmonia Mundi).

Two masterpieces definitely worth a mention (you'll accuse me of using the term "masterpiece" lightly but what the heck): Schnittke's Choir Concerto and Silvestrov's Testament (I got to know both pieces courtesy of Luke).

Also, while Gudmundsen-Holmgreen's choral music is not, IMHO, as good as his orchestral and chamber stuff, I'd still say that Statements and Examples deserve a mention.

There's also supposed to be some fantastic choir writing from MacMillan, though, unfortunately, I haven't heard any of it yet.



OK, now moving on to the Polish entries.................. >:D

Nah, too many, I don't have enough time today. I might drop by tomorrow.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 30, 2008, 12:46:22 PM
There's also supposed to be some fantastic choir writing from MacMillan, though, unfortunately, I haven't heard any of it yet.

Yes, in fact, the director of a chorus which specializes in new music won't do my pieces, because . . . I don't write like MacMillan  :P
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Drasko on December 30, 2008, 01:03:51 PM

Two masterpieces definitely worth a mention (you'll accuse me of using the term "masterpiece" lightly but what the heck): Schnittke's Choir Concerto and Silvestrov's Testament (I got to know both pieces courtesy of Luke).


I'll keep you company on the accused bench, at least regarding Schnittke's Choir Concerto.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Brewski on December 30, 2008, 01:08:41 PM
I'll keep you company on the accused bench, at least regarding Schnittke's Choir Concerto.

Happy to help fill the bench as well to support the Schnittke, a great piece.  Unfortunately I don't know the Silvestrov at all. 

--Bruce
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on December 30, 2008, 03:57:09 PM
Very strongly recommend this disc for the lovely, inspriting performance (and recording) of Honegger's 'Une Cantate De Noel':

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Lethevich on December 30, 2008, 06:28:22 PM
I'm surprised Part has been only mentioned once here. What about his Summa? What about the Stabat Mater? Not being much of a Part fan I have to admit the latter is a truly great piece.

Too obvious, maybe - his music is so omnipresent and ripped-off, that it becomes easy to forget about or denigrate. A problem I have is that beyond almost literaly the two you mention, I find it hard to gauge which of his works stand out, and which are Pärt on autopilot.

At his best there is the Stabat Mater, Summa, the Passion, Es sang vor langen Jahre, the Te Deum, Kanon Pokajanen (the latter two at a stretch).

Then there there is the Miserere, Litany, Magnificat, De Profundis, The Beatitudes, which range from very good to "nice", but... hard to become excited about.

Then there is a further group which seem pointless, that includes the Berlin Mass.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 30, 2008, 06:32:37 PM
I could've used a large choral work from Sibelius - say, a Requiem, or some such.


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 30, 2008, 06:36:53 PM
I could've used a large choral work from Sibelius - say, a Requiem, or some such.

How about the Cantata for the University Graduation Exercises of 1897? (Oops! 19th century!)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 30, 2008, 07:00:18 PM
How about the Cantata for the University Graduation Exercises of 1897? (Oops! 19th century!)

That might work - it could've been revised and used again in 1901. ;D But really I'd be happier with something large-scale, something to challenge the biggest out there.

A sonic spectacular, with full orchestra, large chorus, a battalion of soloists, maybe offstage instrumentalists, etc...

Not that Sibelius's muse ever ventured into excess like this but such a challenge could've produced gold.

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 30, 2008, 07:02:05 PM
That might work - it could've been revised and used again in 1901. ;D But really I'd be happier with something large-scale, something to challenge the biggest out there.

A sonic spectacular, with full orchestra, large chorus, a battalion of soloists, maybe offstage instrumentalists, etc...

Not that Sibelius's muse ever ventured into excess like this but such a challenge could've produced gold.

Kullervo not big enough for you, eh?  ;)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 30, 2008, 07:17:03 PM
Kullervo not big enough for you, eh?  ;)

Kullervo certainly qualifies as big but I want a work more resolutely vocal. From the word go I want to be swimming in voices, a la Verdi - but Sibelius!



Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Mark G. Simon on December 31, 2008, 05:58:13 AM
I could've used a large choral work from Sibelius - say, a Requiem, or some such.

At least one person who visited Sibelius during the 1930s reported seeing a rather large ms. of a choral/orchestral work. Some have speculated from that that Sibelius' 8th had a choral finale, others think that a separate choral work was eventually lost in the Ainola bonfire.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: not edward on December 31, 2008, 02:24:48 PM
One of my favourite 20th century oratorios doesn't seem to have been mentioned here: Roberto Gerhard's The Plague, a narrated and sung version of the Camus novel.

It's a serial piece (stylistically not a million miles from late Stravinsky spiced with Varese) but I've found it appealing to people I wouldn't have expected to enjoy it, presumably because of the very direct, atmospheric and viscerally dramatic nature of much of the choral and orchestral writing.

The excellent Dorati recording is available again, and rather cheaply:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HV50M5MJL._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on December 31, 2008, 02:29:08 PM
Wow, Edward.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 31, 2008, 03:10:28 PM



There's also supposed to be some fantastic choir writing from MacMillan, though, unfortunately, I haven't heard any of it yet.





The only piece I know is MacMillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross, a superbly dramatic work for chorus and chamber orchestra. I'm not sure if the recording I have is still available. It is conducted by James MacMillan himself and was once available on the now defunct Catalyst label. It is well worth hearing.



Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on December 31, 2008, 04:08:25 PM
At least one person who visited Sibelius during the 1930s reported seeing a rather large ms. of a choral/orchestral work. Some have speculated from that that Sibelius' 8th had a choral finale, others think that a separate choral work was eventually lost in the Ainola bonfire.

That's a tantalizing "might have been..."


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: gomro on January 01, 2009, 01:28:28 PM
I see someone, probably Karl, has already mentioned Wuorinen's brilliant Genesis; his Mass is fine, too. Xenakis wrote very fine choral music: try Nuits, Il Colone, Medea. And, even though they're only available from the Stockhausen-Verlag, Stockhausen's Welt-Parlament, Engel-Prozessionen, Momente (are there any Momentes available outside Stockhausen's own release? Could be, but I haven't checked...), Hoch-Zeiten, Chor-Spiral...the list is enormous, and much of it is wonderful music.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on January 03, 2009, 01:23:23 AM
So much material has been mentioned that is new to me!

I thought I would report back on two of my first new pieces. I got hold of the recommended version of Martinu's Gilgamesh. I have only heard it once and enjoyed it. Clearly I will need to give it a fair bit of attention before I can feel I am getting to grips with it.

The other is the Mathias Lux Aeterna: I have listened to it twice, it sounded a bit like Britten treading water and filtered through Adams. But that is a superficial reaction and again; I need time to assimilate it.

It was a long time ago, but when I first heard Tippet's Child of Our Time, I could make nothing of it, so I know it is probable that more listening, as against just having the music on, will do the trick.

So, thanks guys.

Mike

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 04, 2009, 05:18:27 AM
Colin has mentioned Penderecki's Polish Requiem, which has some sublime moments (the Lacrimosa and Agnus dei), as well as some terrible lows (the Dies irae, IMHO). But the two pieces I personally find indispensable are Passion according to Saint Luke and Credo - two great pieces representative of the two main "periods" in Penderecki's output. Mike, you already know at least a section of the Passion - the Stabat Mater (which you have sung, IIRC).
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on January 04, 2009, 06:11:39 AM
I need to revisit Penderecki's St Luke Passion, it's decades since I heard it last.
Title: Re: 20th Century Oratorio
Post by: zamyrabyrd on January 05, 2009, 03:29:17 AM

Perhaps the answer to my superficial approach to Tippett is to get to grips with the music in a detailed way; from the inside if possible, grow my affection for his music instead of leaving it on the shelf.

Mike

Hi Mike,
As a rather latecomer to the thread, I really appreciated your post on the Dream of Gerontius, also happy to see Yvonne Minton's name connected to an earlier recording with Britten--gotta buy that !!!

But your writeup of your personal experience with Child of Our Time was really exceptional. The process of getting to know a musical work is still shrouded in mystery. I am teaching somewhat (in other words, sometimes I don't have a clue what to do next to interest the students), a course in Piano Literature that is more a glorified Music Appree. I find the personal touch or anecdote the ideal handle to get a grip on what is otherwise frustratingly elusive.

Did anyone mention Chichester Psalms by Bernstein?

ZB
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on January 05, 2009, 08:20:41 AM
I included 'Chichester Psalms' in my list on page 2 of this thread :)

Great work :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Christo on January 05, 2009, 08:26:32 AM
I need to revisit Penderecki's St Luke Passion, it's decades since I heard it last.

Exactly the piece we always played in Kindergarten too !  8)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on January 05, 2009, 08:29:51 AM
Exactly the piece we always played in Kindergarten too !  8)

That would have scared the little kids no end ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: karlhenning on January 05, 2009, 08:30:58 AM
That would have scared the little kids no end ;D

You never know! They might groove!
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on January 05, 2009, 01:23:41 PM
ZB, Thanks for the comments. I hope you hit on a way to inspire the students.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: zamyrabyrd on January 06, 2009, 02:38:26 AM
ZB, Thanks for the comments. I hope you hit on a way to inspire the students.

Now, if I could find a way to impress my kids, THAT would be an achievement!!

ZB
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 08, 2009, 06:06:31 AM
Szymanowski's 3rd Symphony and Stabat Mater have been mentioned earlier. I would second those recommendations, especially the Stabat Mater which is, I think, Szymanowski's greatest work. But there's another piece I'd rank almost as high (or perhaps just as high): the Kurpie Songs (the 6-movement choral cycle; there's also a slightly later, and longer, cycle for voice and piano) - a neglected masterpiece, IMO. And the same should be said of two cantatas: Demeter (for alto, female choir and orchestra) and Litany to the Virgin Mary (for soprano, female choir and orchestra), breathtakingly beautiful, the both of them - the first is extremely dramatic, the second more meditative.

Harnasie should be mentioned as well, though to call it "choral music" might be stretching it a bit... It is "choral" in the sense that Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé is. Szymanowski does employ a choir here but, strictly speaking, Harnasie is a ballet. So I guess I'm submitting the Ravel as well... ;D In both works, the choir is indispensable.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 08, 2009, 06:13:13 AM
Oh, and speaking of chances to hear Penderecki's St Luke Passion: it will be performed at Canterbury Cathedral on 2nd May, as part of the "Polish Season" in Britain, which starts this May and ends May 2010. I guess that will be the opening concert. The closing one is just as interesting: a performance of Roman Maciejewski's Requiem - a piece considered by some to be the best mass setting written by a Polish composer in the 20th century. And yes, it does include choir, so I'm not mentioning it here just offhand - as far as Polish 20th century choral music goes, this one is a must! $:) ;D
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: pjme on January 08, 2009, 01:47:05 PM
Yes, Maciek, the Szymanowski works you mention are exquisite - and moving. Harnasie ,with its grand choral outbursts, never fails to astonish me. The impact of a chorus can be totaly overwhelming - sad & sinister in the final scene from Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin or sweet and mysterious as in Debussy's Sirènes....
I would like to mention Hilding Rosenberg's 4th symphony, "The revelation of St.John" ( baritone, chorus & orchestra) - it switches between the grandiose and simple a capella settings . Those choral sections ( very "classical" and restrained) are ...breathtakingly beautiful.( at least on the Caprice recording - with Eric Ericson ).
I am also a great fan of Zoltan Kodaly's choral works - again classical & restrained - but some of the Psalms are very affecting.
I've mentioned before a particular favorite of mine : Jehan Alain's Messe modale en septuor - for girls or women's chorus, flute & organ ( or flute & stringquartet). It was written for students or amateurs, but due to its "simplicity" achieves - for me at least - great luminosity,a childlike directness...
And another old favorite ( on Timpani) : Gabriel Pierné's ballet ( cfr. Ravel, Szymanowski) "Cydalise et le chëvre-pied" in it's complete version ,with chorus. lovely!
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dundonnell on January 08, 2009, 02:04:25 PM
Very much agree about the Rosenberg and the Pierne :)

My Caprice version of Rosenberg's 4th is conducted by Sixten Ehrling with Hakan Hagegard as baritone soloist(1992). Is there another?

I am wearying of repeating how much we need a new Rosenberg cycle on disc. BIS and CPO seem determined to record every other Swedish composer except the man who could be said to have dragged Swedish music into the 20th century ::) CPO has now started on a Natanael Berg cycle with Edvin Kallstenius to follow. Why not Rosenberg??
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Lethevich on January 09, 2009, 12:49:50 AM
I would second those recommendations, especially the Stabat Mater which is, I think, Szymanowski's greatest work. [...] And the same should be said of two cantatas: Demeter (for alto, female choir and orchestra) and Litany to the Virgin Mary (for soprano, female choir and orchestra), breathtakingly beautiful, the both of them - the first is extremely dramatic, the second more meditative.

I can confirm how good these works are, thanks to this great Naxos disc (http://www.amazon.com/Szymanowski-Stabat-Creator-Litany-Virgin/dp/B001DELX9Y). Strangely they seem to have changed the cover art (I think they did the same with a Górecki disc too) - the replacement artwork is much worse...
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: pjme on January 09, 2009, 03:20:44 AM


My Caprice version of Rosenberg's 4th is conducted by Sixten Ehrling with Hakan Hagegard as baritone soloist(1992). Is there another?



Sort of : it is a historical recoding from the première Dec.6th, 1940. Caprice 21508 (1992 - a large box with many more historical recodings). The symphony is not complete ( 36'41'')  and has a reciter (Anders de Wahl) instead of a baritone soloist. Rosenberg conducts.

P.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 09, 2009, 11:35:32 AM
Moving on to other Polish composers, I of course have got to mention Pawel Szymanski. While I'm generally crazy about Szymanski, I am not all that crazy about his choral pieces (In Paradisum, Miserere, Lux aeterna) except for one: Gloria for female chorus and instrumental ensemble. It's rather "early" Szymanski (1979) but just as good as many much later pieces (it was awarded a prize at the 1981 UNESCO Rostrum).

Unfortunately, AFAIK, the only commercial recording available is a DVD of a concert from the Pawel Szymanski Festival (disc no. 2 from this set):
(http://merlin.pl/Szymanski,images_big,31,5908259554129.jpg)
An excellent performance but an audio-only recording would be nice too...
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 15, 2009, 11:57:38 AM
Two piece I forgot to mention earlier are Penderecki's Song of the Cherubim, one of my favorite Penderecki pieces, and Symphony no. 2 "Morgenrot" by the Belgian composer Piet Swerts. This is the only piece by Swerts I've heard so far and it is very impressive. It is a symphony, oratorio, requiem mass, song setting - all-in-one. But it forms a fairly coherent whole. I would compare it to post-1980 Penderecki or Maciejewski's Requiem. It is a similar brand of neo-romanticism (or post-romanticism or late romanticism or whatever). And it's worth mentioning that Swerts somehow manages not to make this pretty large work (72 minutes!) sound self-indulgent. In fact, I was surprised by how easy it was to swallow, in comparison to some shorter but much more pompous compositions by Penderecki.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on January 15, 2009, 12:16:36 PM
And of course another Polish composer whose choral output is worthy of mention is Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. Lethe already brought up (in passing) the Naxos disc with the 2nd Symphony (for soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra), and that would be my top recommendation. But Gorecki has also written some excellent a capella works, such as the often recorded Totus Tuus and Amen. But also others, written to Polish texts, which should probably explain why these are less popular with choirs around the world: Szeroka woda, Pieśni Maryjne, Hej, z góry, z góry! Kóniku bury - these are actually all paraphrases of folk songs and religious songs but then Górecki is not one to avoid musical quotations - cf. his string quartets. The last of the cycles mentioned is a set of songs from the Kurpie region - it could nicely complement the Szymanowski cycle. I've been told Gorecki's choral writing is pretty tough on the performers because of the exceedingly slow, suffocating tempos...

And I think I forgot to mention earlier that one of Maciejewski's is also a set of Kurpie songs for choir (Henryk Czyz rated it highly, I'm not sure if I've ever heard it).
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on January 24, 2009, 12:52:58 AM
This last week the UK has seen a short tour by the Minnesota choir known as the 'VocalEssence Ensemble Singers'. It is a professional choir of about 40 who concentrate mainly on contemporary music.

On Tuesday they came to London and London remained resolutely at home. That was London's loss. The choir mustered an audience of about 100 in the substantial St John's Smith Sq venue.

I went, prompted by Bruce from this site, whose brother-in-law is the rich bass voice at the very bottom of the soundpicture; with what a chorus master I know referred to as, 'That desirable big-black-velvet thing that every choir needs'.

Reading the programme while waiting for the start of the concert, I saw that the conductor had been with the choir for 40 years.....'Oh', I thought....'Squeezing the last juice out of it all.' However, I could not have been more wrong, the artistic sap was clearly still rising. Philip Brunelle is a great choral trainer who has built a network of connections with composers. An early example was talking Copland into conducting the ensemble in his own music; commissions to a wide number of contemporary writers have followed.

The choir has a beautiful blend and is well disciplined without sounding drilled. I could hear all the words without the ends having to be attacked. The acoustic in the hall is warm, but not reverberant; they may have had to resort to more aggressive use of consonants when later in the week they appeared at Kings College chapel Cambridge. If folk have discs by the Cambridge Singers, the sound is similar, I regard that as a compliment. I would have liked a little more obvious juice from the altos, who really sounded to me like second sopranos. But that is a marginal issue.

The programme was one of American Masterpieces. It was full of contrast and contained several really virtuosic and complex pieces. My favourite was by Eric Whitacre. born 1970. Here was a madrigal with a modernist twist, 'Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine' Sounds and words gave a kaleidoscopic effect of fragmented dreams and plans. I almost expected Stockhausen's helicopters to descend at the end, engaging and exciting.

The choir also does straightforwardly beautiful. Another Whitacre piece, 'Water Night' was among a number that clearly left the audience enjoying a benedictory silence at the end before their enthusiastic applause.

Most pieces were short, song length. These included Kernis 'I cannot Dance O Lord', a cannon, its humorously emphatic claims leading to a the gradual joining of the voices in near unison, then the sound goes into a washing machine on spin. Another accessable piece was Ned Rorem's 'Sing, my soul' a delight. The 'Native American Piece' by Brent Michael Davids is another that left a strong impression, ethnic music absorbed into a western idiom without becoming soft centred. The new music was interspersed with spirituals including one I did not know, 'My soul's been anchored in the Lord'. It was pointed out by the conductor that all spirituals, though born from desperate circumstances, reflect hope and faith in something better. I had not really grasped this about the genre. The choir ripped through these enjoying them as much as the more challenging items.

I bought one of their discs; they record for Clarion; as I write I am listening to a Bluegrass Mass, a combo new to me and very enjoyable. On the disc were several I heard this week including the Kernis, Billings, Roram and Whitacre's 'Water Night'.

As this turned out to be Inauguration day, the concert could not end without reference to that celebration by Americans who clearly could not be there on their own soil to celebrate. We finished with the US national amthem and Battle Hymn of the Republic.

A really great choir; perhaps next time round London will be drawn from its torpor and fill the seats.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Brewski on January 24, 2009, 11:00:08 AM
On Tuesday they came to London and London remained resolutely at home...perhaps next time round London will be drawn from its torpor and fill the seats.


 :'(  :'(  :'(

Well, so happy you were there!  (And I know Jim was, too.)  Great report on what sounds like a superb concert.  And I like Eric Whitacre's work (the little I've heard) a lot. 

Brunelle used to direct a choir in the UK if I recall.  He is definitely one of the best around for contemporary choral music. 

--Bruce
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on February 27, 2009, 02:58:17 PM
How I managed not to mention Pawel Lukaszewski for so long on this thread is quite beyond understanding. But now at last I am. He has his own thread here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,10037.0.html), much frequented by everyone's favorite posters.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Häuschen on February 27, 2009, 03:28:49 PM
There is an incredible disc by the Tapiola Choir called Water Under Snow Is Weary that contains some absolutely beautiful music.  Leave it to the Finns to have a world class children's choir capable of lushly sung traditional songs as well as frightening tone clusters and screams.  It also includes a music drama, "Marjatta, matala neiti" by Rautavaara based on a portion of the Kalevala.  I bought mine in 1991, but I think it was reissued in 1996 and sadly remains out of print.

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/70/6f/99e981b0c8a02b2f8c50c110.L._AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 27, 2009, 04:49:34 PM
Two recent discoveries are Weill's somewhat lightweight but delightful Das Berliner Requiem from this disc and Bernstein's 3rd symphony, "Kaddish". Neither of which I've heard before. The "filler" on this disc is the short but powerful A Survivor From Warsaw from Schoenberg - which in this version out-chills even Abbado/VPO.


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61v4skmeOPL._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on February 28, 2009, 12:36:23 AM
You have spiked my interest with this Donwyn, thanks, I have ordered it.

Mike

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on February 28, 2009, 03:01:42 PM
Hope it clicks for you.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dancing Divertimentian on June 05, 2009, 09:55:00 PM
First listen tonight to an unheralded yet fantastic work by Prokofiev: Songs Of Our Days, a suite for mezzo-soprano, baritone, choir and orchestra.

Text is unexceptional yet has the misfortune of being so unabashedly Stalinist that it's nausea-inducing. Sort of the reverse of what text is supposed to provide. It's no coincidence I suppose that the work is very early in Prokofiev's return engagement in the Soviet Union but boy is this laying it on thick:

There is a man behind the Kremlin walls
and the entire land knows him and loves him.
Your joy and happiness comes from him
Stalin! That is his great name!


Although on the bright side Soviet propaganda was always the best for inducing an intense case of the grins. :)

Anyway, fortunately the music is nothing to scoff at. It may not reach the level of some of Prokofiev's more popular works but on its own it's a grand achievement.

Interestingly the mezzo isn't heard from until the next to last movement - Lullaby. But WOW is the wait worth it!! This movement must rank as one of the most lyrically powerful in all Prokofiev. Wonderful inspiration. It's a shame the subtext is so lame-brained but don't let that sway you. Music like this is intended for everybody.


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TVZP3B04L._SS400_.jpg)


Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: The new erato on June 05, 2009, 11:27:16 PM
Thanks. Added to the ever increasing wishlist, but since there's a very tempting Chandos offer on mdt currently, chances are that this will surface one of these days. Though I'm currently into a baroque period (again).
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Harpo on July 28, 2009, 12:34:04 PM
What about Orff's Carmina Burana--or would you put that in another category? That's one I've actually sung in and it's still a lot of fun.

Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms? Beautiful.

My choir sang Dello Joio's Ode to St. Cecelia a couple of years ago. I hated it--it seemed like a patchwork quilt of many other choral works; boring and random. My choir director was very excited about doing it, since when she was 4 her father conducted it somewhere and Dello Joio stayed at their house.

aside--I went to see my father's grave in Long Island and Dello Joio's grave is right across from it.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on July 28, 2009, 01:23:06 PM
I am with you in the Stravinsky, I have sung in it several times. Hypnotic, hiratic it casts a spell if well done and falls flat if done at the wrong tempi.

As for Carmina Burana, I can take a few minutes, but did not enjoy singing it, as each time conductors wanted more and more volume until it became a bawling match to try and overcome the orchestra; the reality being that one trumpet can blot out a large chorus, so the answer was to tone down the orchestra.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Harpo on July 28, 2009, 01:40:13 PM

As for Carmina Burana, I can take a few minutes, but did not enjoy singing it,
Mike

Actually, I enjoy listening to it more than singing it. It's not as much fun if you have to follow the music, the conductor, etc.

I used to sing "Six Chansons" by Hindemith, "Ceremony of Carols" by Britten, Aaron Copland American folk songs, "Alleluia" by Randall Thompson. War horses, I guess, but satisfying.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Slezak on July 29, 2009, 04:53:11 AM
  One of the real masterpieces, which is seldom heard, or recorded, is Zoltan Kodaly's "Te Deum"...great work.  SS
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on August 19, 2009, 12:54:37 AM
Oh, and speaking of chances to hear Penderecki's St Luke Passion: it will be performed at Canterbury Cathedral on 2nd May, as part of the "Polish Season" in Britain, which starts this May and ends May 2010. I guess that will be the opening concert. The closing one is just as interesting: a performance of Roman Maciejewski's Requiem - a piece considered by some to be the best mass setting written by a Polish composer in the 20th century. And yes, it does include choir, so I'm not mentioning it here just offhand - as far as Polish 20th century choral music goes, this one is a must! $:) ;D

Here's a clip from that concert! :o

http://www.youtube.com/v/ffdwQJoBzU4
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffdwQJoBzU4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffdwQJoBzU4))
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: offbeat on August 19, 2009, 01:06:32 PM
Hi everyone - this is my first post on this forum - looks really interesting
Tks to Maciek about the concerts in Canterbury - was unaware of this up to now and missed the concert on 2nd May - the Penderecki sounds really atmospheric

Not sure if this work has been mentioned on this thread but will mention as ever since i saw at RFO thought was great
Delius Mass of Life

I know many music lovers are allergic to Delius - some calling it old fashioned others saying its rather decadent but for me thats a plus and love his lush harmonies  :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Brewski on August 19, 2009, 01:09:40 PM
Hi offbeat, and welcome.  Why not post a little about yourself in the "Introductions" section, here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/board,2.0.html)!

You'll find a number of Delius fans here, too.  Anyway, enjoy yourself!

--Bruce
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Anne on August 19, 2009, 09:08:49 PM
Welcome, offbeat!  I hope you enjoy yourself at GMG.  There are many knowledgeable people here.  Everyone loves to help a newbie!
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on August 20, 2009, 08:05:35 AM
Pawel Szymanski's Miserere (http://www.nina.gov.pl/szymanski-miserere) (for choir, vibraphone, harp and 4 cellos, oh, hello there Guido)













(I've posted links to other Pawel Szymanski pieces on my blog (http://musicalwren.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/pawel-szymanski-x-4-on-nina/))
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Air on August 20, 2009, 12:03:46 PM
Hi everyone - this is my first post on this forum - looks really interesting
Tks to Maciek about the concerts in Canterbury - was unaware of this up to now and missed the concert on 2nd May - the Penderecki sounds really atmospheric

Not sure if this work has been mentioned on this thread but will mention as ever since i saw at RFO thought was great
Delius Mass of Life

I know many music lovers are allergic to Delius - some calling it old fashioned others saying its rather decadent but for me thats a plus and love his lush harmonies  :)

Welcome to gmg, offbeat.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on August 31, 2009, 01:21:40 PM
Just discovered this interesting thread.

My No 1 recommendation is Novak's 'The Storm' - one of the masterpieces of the 20th Century.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Maciek on February 12, 2010, 01:35:24 PM
Oh, and speaking of chances to hear Penderecki's St Luke Passion: it will be performed at Canterbury Cathedral on 2nd May, as part of the "Polish Season" in Britain, which starts this May and ends May 2010. I guess that will be the opening concert. The closing one is just as interesting: a performance of Roman Maciejewski's Requiem - a piece considered by some to be the best mass setting written by a Polish composer in the 20th century. And yes, it does include choir, so I'm not mentioning it here just offhand - as far as Polish 20th century choral music goes, this one is a must! $:) ;D

Did anyone go to the Maciejewski? Johnson's Rambler links to a review. (http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/two-recent-reviews-roman-maciejewski-and-elision/)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: offbeat on February 13, 2010, 09:48:32 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XH7C99K4L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)


Despite its rather uninspiring title this is a wonderful disc of choral singing- in particular the Crucifixus pro nobis op 38 - contains some spine chilling singing mixed up with beautiful harmonies - highly recommended  :)
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: listener on February 13, 2010, 12:54:44 PM
No mention in this thread of Schoenberg - Friede auf erde (a cappella) and Guerrelieder ?
I'll excuse the omission of Joby Talbot's  The Path of Miracles as it's a 2005 composition.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Lethevich on February 17, 2010, 12:58:18 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XH7C99K4L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)


Despite its rather uninspiring title this is a wonderful disc of choral singing- in particular the Crucifixus pro nobis op 38 - contains some spine chilling singing mixed up with beautiful harmonies - highly recommended  :)
Hehe, another thing for me to buy ??? I have the Naxos disc of his choral music and wasn't expecting much (I had assumed it would be merely functional in scope), but it was a pleasant surprise. While we're on the Helios label, I must pimp this amazing disc once more:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/419ZCAWX8QL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

One frame of reference is Holst's very finely crafted choral music, both in the epic Hymn of Jesus and also his smaller pieces, there are parallels to both in Dyson.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: The new erato on February 17, 2010, 01:53:03 AM
Anybody mentioned this?

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/CHAN10423.jpg)

A recent arrival, but after one playthrough it seems very fine.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: knight66 on February 19, 2010, 01:22:52 PM
I remember learning Les Noces, found it very difficult. Although the title is in French, the wedding songs are in Russian. We slogged away at it. Then Gary Bertini, who seemed to have every known blood line and language ingrained him, brought it amazingly to life. He broke the formalised way we were singing it and injected a real harsh peasant tone and liveliness into it.

He opened up the meaning of it wonderfully well. The chiming close of the piece with the four pianos is beautiful and moving.

Mike
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on February 20, 2010, 01:18:07 AM
Anybody mentioned this?

(http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/standard/CHAN10423.jpg)

A recent arrival, but after one playthrough it seems very fine.

I think that I mentioned it on the Rubbra thread - yes, a lovely CD. It is an old recording with Rubbra present in the studio. I liked the note from Richard Hickox which referred to Rubbra being moved to tears (in a positive sense!) by the recording.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on February 20, 2010, 01:20:36 AM
Perhaps my favourite 20th Century choral work - certainly the most moving:

Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on February 20, 2010, 02:31:59 AM
Novak is underrated - this is one of the greatest works I know. Powerful, dramatic, haunting, lyrical and reaching a wonderfully moving catharsis at the end:
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: Dax on February 20, 2010, 02:43:43 AM
And it has one of the great openings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv1EUNdibVs
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: vandermolen on February 20, 2010, 06:23:29 AM
And it has one of the great openings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv1EUNdibVs

Thank you! Didn't know it was on youtube. Yes, it has one of the great openings. Like in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest', Novak plunges headlong into the sorm at the start. I find it has a wonderfully redemptive ending. For me it is one of the great 'spiritual' works, although not in any conventionally religious sense. Nice painting of ghostly ship in turbulent sea accompanying youtube clip.
Title: Re: 20th Century Choral Music
Post by: San Antone on November 01, 2015, 07:22:21 AM
Hugo Distler : chose suicide rather than serve Hitler (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/hugo-distler-chose-suicide-rather-than-serve-hitler/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/distler1.jpg?w=333&h=192)

Because so much emphasis is currently placed upon the fate of Jewish composers under the Nazis, it is easy to forget that there were some German musicians who also suffered as a result of the repressive policies of the regime. Among those that can be singled out in this respect is Hugo Distler, a highly talented church organist and choral conductor who committed suicide at the age of 34 in 1942, on learning that he had been called up for military service. The two large-scale works presented here offer typical examples of the so-called Orgelbewegung style drawing their inspiration from Bach in the trenchant use of chorale and Schutz in the density of polyphonic argument. It's a tribute to Distler's mastery and the outstanding singing of the Netherlands Chamber Choir that despite this obvious musical provenance, both works strike an individual voice and sustain one's interest without the textural variety of an instrumental accompaniment.

Songlist: Totentanz, Spruchmotetten zum Totensonntag, Choral-Passion, Op. 7, Erster Teil: Der Einzug, Zweiter Teil: Judas und der Pharisaer Rat, Dritter Teil: Das Abendmahl, Vierter Teil: Gethsemane, Funfter Teil: Kaiphas, Sechster Teil: Pilatus, Letzter Teil: Golgotha

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/distler2.jpg?w=764)